Atoms for Noobs

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This page explains Atoms and the most basic Atom types in a way that is understandable for people who have little or no previous knowledge of semantic networks.


This page has no prerequisites.


Atoms come in two types: Nodes and Links. Nodes are the smallest elements in the AtomSpace and are used to store information. By storing information in this way and connecting it with various types of Links, the system can compute the pieces of information and the way they relate in various ways and from various perspectives. For example, Atoms which are Linked by InheritanceLinks suggest they share properties, while the same Atoms may also be linked by HebbianLinks to indicate they are frequently activated / observed at the same time.

Elementary Nodes

There are many different Atom types for many different purposes, so we'll begin with one of the most elementary ones, the NumberNode.

The NumberNode is used to store numerical data. By defining this data as an Atom rather than just an int or float, it can be connected to other Atoms in the system in various ways, providing the system with a lot more related information than would otherwise be possible.

NumberNode #4
NumberNode #3.14

The WordNode is used to store text strings.

WordNode #cat
WordNode #dog

Defining NumberNodes and WordNodes is all good and well, but the system requires these to be linked to other nodes (such as ConceptNodes) before it can actually process them usefully.